This may surprise some but I am not criticizing President Obama for sitting in the pew as Rev Luis Leon spewed forth with his ugly diatribe against the conservative Right in this country. It was not his fault that this shady pastor took the opportunity presented by the press coverage of the First Family visiting that church on Easter Sunday to gin up some publicity for himself. Clearly the man is a celebrity wannabe in a robe.
“It drives me crazy when the captains of the religious right are always calling us back … for blacks to be back in the back of the bus, for women to be back in the kitchen, for gays to be in the closet, and for immigrants to be back on their side of the border,” said Leon at St. John’s Church, an Episcopal church near the White House.
This guy, frankly, is why so many traditional Christians continue to leave regular church attendance. Especially on the most holy day on the Christian calendar, parishioners do not come to hear the word of a political preacher. They come to hear the word of God.
So, shame on him for being a jerk. And, shame on him for deciding it is a-ok to go full-on ideologue in his sermons. He is unapologetic.
Under attack by some conservatives for speaking out against the "captains of the religious right" in his Easter sermon, the Rev. Luis León, pastor of the Episcopal church the Obama family attended for the holiday, told The Huffington Post on Monday that he stands by his words."It's in there. People will do what they want with it," said Leon, referring to the sermon in which he said it drives him "crazy when the captains of the religious right are always calling us back ... for blacks to be back in the back of the bus ... for women to be back in the kitchen ... for immigrants to be back on their side of the border."The words, spoken as he instructed congregants to follow the advice of Jesus telling Mary Magdalene not to cling to him after he returned to life after death, came as Leon said Christians need to remember that "God address us in the now." In the sermon, he linked the story to what he described as conservatives grasping onto outdated views on race, gender roles and immigration.He may have taken a liking to controversy.
This is not the first time León, who also presided over services that President George W. Bush's family often attended, has been part of a controversy. In January, León, whose denomination ordains openly gay clergy, was tapped to replace the Rev. Louie Giglio, an Atlanta pastor accused of being anti-gay, at Obama's inauguration.
Charles Krauthammer called it libel. He noted it smacked of the dead Ted Kennedy days during the Judge Robert Bork hearings where he accused Bork of the same kinds of racist, misogynist slurs. He destroyed the reputation of an honorable man solely because he didn't want him on the Supreme Court, being a Republican of great intellect.
I will note, though, the utter hypocrisy of the media. Pleased as they are that this pastor went after the religious Right - meaning some in the Republican party - they sure don't hold President Obama to the same standard as they do Republicans. Remember during the GOP primary season when Gov Rick Perry was introduced by a preacher in a Dallas church who did some spewing himself? He called Mormonism a cult and the press had tons of fun with that remark. The media wrote stories until Perry distanced himself from the minister, who was endorsing him for President.
So, not a peep of the nasty part injected into this sermon by Rev Leon from the national media. No, their story is that "some" on the Right are voicing displeasure in the remarks. It is what Republicans have come to expect. It is always all about shielding President Obama from any controversy.
The dignified response from President Obama would be to issue a short statement that the remarks were unfortunate and unexpected during an Easter Sunday sermon. He could say he was disappointed. He won't though, because he, too, has those thoughts expressed by Rev Leon and he, too, probably found nothing objectionable about his actions.
You may remember that Michelle Obama introduced Barack Obama into the church of Rev Wright and his hateful sermons. He was considered a 'spiritual adviser' and 'like an Uncle' as voiced by Obama. No doubt Rev Leon remembers and knew what Obama's reaction - or lack of one - would be.
Many words have been used to describe Barack Obama. Dignified is not one of them.